LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Everyone loves a gift card – they’re easy to give and get, so we spend billions of dollars on them annually.
But scammers want them just as much.
“Scammers love gift cards because the funds are untraceable… and once the money is received, it cannot be retrieved or recovered by the retailer or the bank,” explained Jenny Grounds, CMO of ScamSpotter.org, a website set up with the help of Google to help consumers spot, stop and report online scams.
“Scammers are becoming much more sophisticated… they will contact you through a variety of methods…that is phone calls, text messages, chats, direct messages through social media,” said Grounds.
You might even get pop-up windows on your computer leading you down to the land of scams.
Current scams might urge you to pay for technical support, help a loved one in need or reactivate an account with “fraudulent” activity.
There’s even a corporate email scam where you get a message that looks like it is coming from your boss asking you to buy gift cards so that they can give them to employees as gifts.
They’re all scams.
“This has gotten more prevalent than you would think,” said Grounds.
Which is why you need to know the 3 golden rules, according to ScamSpotter.org.
Number 1: Slow it down. This means disregard the artificial sense of urgency that scam artists typically instill into their swindles. They want you to act fact before you realize something isn’t right.
Number 2: Spot check. Do your research before taking any action. If you get an unexpected call, text, email, DM or any other message, don’t respond to it. Instead, contact the company or organization directly.
Number 3: Don’t send. Never send gift cards as payment for anything.
“The most critical piece of information is if you are ever asked to solve a problem with a gift card, it is a scam,” concluded Grounds.